Pakistan government faces an embarassing setback at the international diplomatic front

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Pakistan government faces an embarassing setback at the international diplomatic front

ISLAMABAD - Australian government will cease all bilateral aid to Pakistan, which includes support for successful programs helping poor women and girls, as funds for development assistance are diverted to the Pacific.

Australia has a 70-year history of providing aid to Pakistan but will end all government to government development assistance in 2020-21, the latest aid program performance report on Pakistan link reveals. [image: Girls reading the Quran in Karachi, Pakistan. Australia 's aid to Pakistan has focussed on assisting women and girls.]

Girls reading the Quran in Karachi, Pakistan. Australia 's aid to Pakistan has focussed on assisting women and girls.CREDIT:AP

“Funding in Australia’s overall aid program has been redirected to support new initiatives in our immediate Pacific region,” it said.

“This has reduced bilateral aid to Pakistan from $39.2 million in 2018-19 to $19 million in 2019-20 and funding for bilateral programs will fully cease in 2020-21.” Advertisement

A key objective of Australia’s aid to Pakistan has been assisting women and girls with a focus on education, increased access to quality reproductive health and gender-based anti-violence services.

Pakistan is one of the poorest countries in Asia and was placed 150 out of 178 nations on the most recent United Nations Human Development Index, which ranks countries according to health, education and income.

Australia’s overall foreign aid budget has been slashed by 27 per cent in real terms since 2013 and now makes up just 0.82 per cent of federal government spending, an all-time low.

Despite those cuts, the Morrison government has pledged an Australian“step-up” in the Pacific and aid spending in that region was lifted to a record $1.4 billion in 2019-20. The policy shift came amid fears of growing Chinese influence on Australia 's doorstep link, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

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